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Old 03-12-2007, 07:17 PM   #1
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Changing the parameters from a personal sailing yacht, to commercial, charter, or for hire, what are the skippers licensing requirements?

From other discussions, I realize there is somewhat of an undefined line between private vessel and charter vessel, with the "paying crew" debate being in between. It appears some skippers operate a commercial business, and try to justify it as a personal sailing vessel with cost sharing. I do not want to go there in my cruising plans. The "For Hire" line is perfectly clear for me.
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Old 03-12-2007, 11:09 PM   #2
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A good parallel on land would be a bus or taxi driver. Getting a bus or private car license is easy. Getting a bus/car license to carry paying passengers is not so easy as the driver must possess first aid qualifications, demonstrate wet weather control, submit to a police check etc., and, in Australia, a nationally issued certificate of competency rather than a state based qualification is necessary.

So it is with a yacht...except the demonstration of competence is far more strict, and the applicant for a charter license must have a log book displaying the required number of hours in service under a qualified skipper (I think it is 500 hours) and must include overnight and offshore work including ocean passages of more than 600 miles, before consideration.

In Austalia there is a strict regime of study which includes fire management, communication, deck hand, competent crew etc. up to the first master's certificate (Master 5) which allows limited inshore charter work.If working for an accredited charter agency overseen by qualified Masters, Ocean Yachtmaster is sufficient to take charter work (Sunsail etc)

The charter boat is a different thing! In Oz it should be built to charter specifications, or modified to suit. However modifications are costly and may not be possible to make. The inclusion of watertight bulkheads, watertight doors, fully watertight and pressure tested hatches, companionway doors, washboards, and reinforced collision zones, extra bilges and pumps, enhanced safety gear etc. etc. etc. can make the charter vessel a totally different animal to the average private yacht.

Unsurveyed boats working in charter, or without correctly certified skippers are sailing through a legal minefield in the event of an accident...even an accident as apparently benign as a stubbed toe can cause major problems in today's litigous world. A private boat operating on a commercial basis loses its insurance cover.

As with everything else in our world, there is no subsitiute for doing it correctly.

Best wishes

David.
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Old 03-12-2007, 11:17 PM   #3
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In the US or on a US flagged vessel anywhere in the world if you operate comercially and take passengers or paid crew, the captain must be licensed. The license must reflect the size of the vessel and whether or not it is an inspected vessel. An uninspected vessel may take up to 6 passengers and the captain's license to operate that vessel could be an OUPV (operator of an uninspected vessel). That class of license is commonly called a 6 pack license. Otherwise an inspected vessel may carry any number of passengers up to the number that the vessel is certified for. Other than a 6 pack license a Masters license specifies the maximum size that the master may operate in terms of gross tonnage. Note that in this context ton is a unit of volume not weight. A 6 pack or a Masters license carries other restrictions in terms of where the captain may operate - eg inland, near shore, or offshore. A license may carry certain endorsements. One that is of interest here would be a sail/auxiliary endorsement that allows the captain to operate a sailboat with an auxiliary engine. Another that may be of interest would be a towing endorsement.

It should be noted that a captain does not need a license to make boat deliveries if no passengers come along, even though he/she is operating for hire. In this case though, the owner's insurance company may require that the captain be licensed.

I do not speak for the US Coast Guard, but it is my understanding that they make a fairly strict interpretation of what "paying passenger" means. It is my understanding that if a passenger gives the captain any money then the captain must be licensed.

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Old 03-13-2007, 05:02 AM   #4
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The responses have been enlightening.

The comparison of Private vs. Commercial in land transportation certainly puts things in a perspective I understand. I hold multiple commercial vehicle licenses and endorsements. The standards are much higher transporting freight or people for hire, as are the laws, risks, responsibilities, regulatory agencies, liabilities and insurance requirements.

Maintaining the requirements to operate "Everything", brings one to a point of asking, "Do I really want and need that? Is it worth the time, effort and expense to become and remain qualified?"

I think it helps to define the intent of cruising as recreation, supplemental income, or primary job. Our original intent of cruising was a retirement activity, as long as we enjoy it, and we are capable of doing it safely. Studying cruising, we have considered doing it earlier, in pre-retirement, and earning income from it.

Concerning cruising, I have considered all aspects, Private, Cost Sharing, and Commercial, but have not formed a conclusion yet, so keep the responses and input coming.

Regardless of my decision, I want to be knowledgeable of the requirements. I have been on the US Coast Guard web site and have not found the regulations and references telling me what I want and need to know. Did I miss it? Should I be looking else where? US Department of Transportation? The Federal Register?

EDITED TO ADD:

Quoting Auzzee's last line:

"As with everything else in our world, there is no subsitiute for doing it correctly."

And that is my intent. That is why I ask this and other sailing and cruising questions, attempting to educate myself. There is a saying, "You get what you pay for". I am certainly happy this board does not charge tuition! On the same note I believe in another saying, "Pay it Forward", meaning do a good deed, help those in need, it will repay you sometime in the future. I try to live by that.
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Old 03-13-2007, 06:40 AM   #5
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As some of the others have explained, the vessel being chartered invariably has to be 'licensed' itself.

In the UK there are various 'codes' which apply dependent on size / number of passengers etc.

Even the smallest vessel if used commercially, has to be checked out and approved.

I do know such commercial coding does vary country to country - so if you are a small boat owner wishing to use it commercially in many locations worldwide - you'll need to comply with each countries commercial coding requirements.

On the other hand, a skippers personal commercial ticket, is internationally recognised.

Cheers

JOHN
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Old 03-13-2007, 12:54 PM   #6
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Aqua Man, here is a link to some of the information you seek. I agree that the USCG site is a bit confusing and difficult to navigate. It's a listing of legalese for the most part.

http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/09...46cfr10.468.pdf
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Old 03-13-2007, 01:58 PM   #7
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Here is another link. This one is to the US Coast Guard webb page devoted to licenses and mariner documentation: http://www.uscg.mil/stcw/

If what you have in mind is gaining knowledge and expertise in boating, you should not overlook the very capable and inexpensive classes that the US Power Squadran and the USCG Auxiliary offer. Each program is divided into many individual classes that offer a certificate on successful completion.

Capt. Mike
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Old 03-13-2007, 04:20 PM   #8
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Yes! I found the answers, the official requirements, at least for the US. The links provided by JeanneP and Capt. Mike are what I was looking for.

Capt Mike,

I will check out the US Power Squadron and the USCG Auxiliary Programs. Gaining knowledge and expertise in boating, is exactly my intent and what I am accomplishing, one piece at a time. As I assemble my notes and references, I am finding there are a lot of pieces (topics / subjects / systems / skills) leading to expertise and competence. My engineering, military, mechanical, electrical, and machinist background, are proving very helpful in my sailing and cruising studies.

Thank you very much!

EDITED: Opps. Spelling.
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Old 03-13-2007, 04:24 PM   #9
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I hold current USCG 100 Ton Near Coastal Master (4th issue) and USL Queensland Transport Master Class V (3rd issue) licenses.

To the best of my memory and knowledge...

The USCG requires 720 days of verified seatime and Queensland Transport requires 980 days of verified seatime.

The USCG can issue an OUPV license (mentioned above) with 365 days' seatime. This is the only American boat license available to non-US Citizens. Australia requires a perminate resident visa to sit the exams.

A day of seatime is defined as a day underway while employed as a crewmember on a registered vessel.

Both require several manditory prerequisite courses and / or certificates.

Military seatime is sometimes taken into consideration depending upon the applicant's shipboard rating.

One may use their own vessel to document seatime necessary for renewal purposes... but not for original license issue.

Both US & Australian licenses are issued for a period of five years and require a minimum of one year of new seatime (or closely related shoreside employment) for renewal.

But don't quote me on any of the above, as things certainly may have changed since Aye had to jump through those hoops.

It took me about five years to collect enough documented seatime to sit the USCG exams. The Australians recognised the two years' seatime needed for the American license... but I still had to document another year before they'd even consider my application.

I've been driving boats ever since - while out there gallivanting around the nicer cruising grounds of the world aboard my own yacht, on my own terms, at my own pace and life is good.

In my opinion... in the old days the safety of the vessel required every crew member be thoroughally trained, experienced and knowledgable of nearly all facits of the vessel's operation - and therefore the old salts took the time to teach each new hand everything they knew about the safe operation of the vessel. Their lives all depended on everybody knowing the ropes in a storm and it was therefore assumed that after two or three years at sea, a keen individual might have been around The Horn and thus gained enough experience and knowledge to take command of a small vessel.

Now-a-days - for cost saving measures, crews are boiled down to bare minimum requirements in order to increase profitability. And a snorkel guide, cook or cultural dancer off Waikiki can log seatime provided that person also helps cast off and tie the vessel to the dock at the end of the voyage. I've seen it happen.

This means that an ambituous person in America can now take a course and obtain a USCG captain's license without ever having a ship's wheel in his or her hands. It's kind of a joke.

In Australia - the harbourmaster takes a personal interest in each applicant. One-on-One. I had to arrange and pay for a prerequisite voyage where I had to jump overboard in a survival suit, deploy and activate a liferaft, swim-tow a fellow classmate around the vessel. Next - I had to meet the harbourmaster at the dock and DEMONSTRATE to him that I could confidently step aboard an un-familiar vessel, check it out, start her up, cast off, navigate the local port and return to the dock without breaking, hitting or sinking anything (he says "you are the captain, I am the crew, let's get underway," I replied "I'm captain and you're my crew??? then you get down there and check the oil!"). It took a bit of time but he finally allowed me to sit his exams.

In closing - I do not believe it should be manditory for everyone who wants to operate a boat to carry a license... but I wish everyone would take enough interest to learn the rules of the road, regulations & requirements in order to make the waterways safer.

But by all means get your Captain's License if you're into it. They're only a piece of paper and they don't weigh you down one bit. They allow you to make money while out cruising, settle bets, earn a little respect and it could change your life. It worked for me.

Carry on,

Kirk
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Old 03-13-2007, 06:31 PM   #10
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Kirk,

I could not agree more.

The basic premise is that of competence and nothing else. However, "administrators" and to a much larger degree "accountants" have been allowed to run maritime ventures. O.K., in this world of bean counters I probably am a dinosaur but the bottom line is when I am out there and it is blowing seven bells out of hell who can I trust? A chap who has long experience and "been there, done that and got the t-shirt" (if not the certificate) or some well intentioned but misguided person who has done a "crash course" in Gib. or some other venue where good weather is guaranteed?

Give me a North Sea yachtie, a New England dory man or a Cape line-fisherman anyday. It was once said that the three most useless items in a small boat were:

1. An umbrella

2. A wheel barrow

3. A naval officer (don't take that too literally)

and you know what? I think that is about right.

Aye

Stephen

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Old 03-13-2007, 10:44 PM   #11
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My boating life started under the tutelage of my father (ex Royal Navy). I was racing powerboats by my 16th birthday and owned a variety of power boats before I made the switch to sail power in 1984. Since then I have owned many yachts, some I have refitted, one I built (36' ketch) and I have sailed thousands of miles in Australian coastal waters between Brisbane and Perth, through the Indonesian archipelligo, and many asian countries.

The only certificate I gained during all of this relates to a muddy grounding 200 metres off the yacht club's terrace.

I have been considering the idea of gaining my Yachtmaster's Offshore (commercial) purely because I want the piece of paper and, because I can make a nice holiday by studying in a faraway place.

I look forward to having the piece of paper and I have no doubt I will learn some things that I presently do not know. Ultimately however, the certificate will probably not make me a better seaman.

I am currently looking at doing the study/course in the UK (too cold) the Med (too expensive), the Caribbean (also plurry expensive), Australia (not exotic enough..I'm an Ozzie), South Africa (Tracey at Ocean Sailing School is very efficient), or Malaysia (nice people, great place).

I made enquiries in Japan (I love the country and will be there again in 2 weeks..Sugoi Banzai!) but Japan does not train RYA courses as they only recognise japanese qualifications and you need a 'Shenken' even if you only drive an 8' tender with a 3.5 HP putt putt.

But no matter if I am certified (as a yachtsman ) or not, I will not annoint myself with the title CAP'N Dave, because I agree with Stephen about the perceived self indulgent pomposity....except perhaps in the US where that seafaring prefix seems acceptable.

David
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Old 03-14-2007, 01:21 AM   #12
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I have been sailing dinghies for the last forty-five years and only started on the big boats in the last few years, so I don't qualify to sit at table with you fellows (except, I'm learning). But I would just like to give a little example of the mess we've got ourselves into in this country at least.

We had to hire a skipper to bring Sea Venture up the Baja Bash because my husband and I had to get back to our respective work places after we had played with our lovely old girl in the Sea of Cortez. The fellow we hired had great references--I wrote each of them--and sounded fine on the phone. He had excellent captain's credentials. But...

He arrived in La Paz, waddling down the deck. (His photo had been deceptive, to say the least. I couldn't imagine how an active sailor could gain that much weight!) Michael and I blanched, wondering how the fellow was going to climb in and out of the cockpit, much less hurry on deck in an emergency. Then the first mate arrived with the crew. The first mate was a sullen fellow who supposedly had all sorts of electrical credentials as well as some sort of licence. But the female crew was a young thing (maybe 20?), tatooed all over, wearing barely anything, who, according to the Captain, wanted to gain sea miles so she could get her very own captain's license. But, on this trip, her plan was to sunbathe. She announced this to us with all smiles, ignoring me when I pointed out the things she ought to know about our boat. Then I had to run catch my plane. Michael's wasn't due to leave 'til the next day, and he was busily making sure all was ready on board.

I'd packed the boat with food. They ate out--on our nickel. Cut corners? Take care of our money? Not on their life. The day after Michael got back to CA he received a call from Cabo demanding we pay their airfare home. They didn't think they wanted the job, said Sea Venture wasn't ready to go. Shocked, we said, take the airfare out of the balance of the deposit. The Captian yelled, threatening to take us to court. Michael didn't want the fuss, so he found them a ticket. Then they kept the entire deposit (half their rate) because of all those expenses--you know, the high end hotels and food and gas and car and phone charges really came to the full amount (we'd paid for air fare down separately). And besides, they were due the full amount because they'd booked those days and the young thing had planned this for her vacation. Fools that we were.... buyer beware, I suppose. I'll tell you, I hate to think of the other poor suckers such as we were who'll someday have to deal with any of those three, esp. the young thing who's on her way to making captain as she bakes color around her vivid tatoos.

The good news is that when I got back to La Paz to see exactly what needed to be done, I found a lovely English fellow recommended by Marina de la Paz who found an American cruiser to help him. They brought Sea Venture north in good time, were pleased with their rate (about half what the Washington State fellow charged), and went home without costing us another fortune.

I know we were too trusting, but it's just too bad that anyone can get himself licensed and then bilk people. At least I know that ultimately he'll have to deal with himself and the consequences of his actions.

Normandie
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Old 03-23-2007, 07:08 PM   #13
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I know this site is primarily about passagemaking, but a previous post here about dingy sailing made me realize that there are large numbers of people teaching sailing for profit on waters which are not interntional and not under the auspices of the coast guard either (In the US) who do not hold the OUPV Captain's license. The ASA homepage has a flow chart which gives their advice as to when they believe one needs the OUPV and when one doesn't.
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Old 03-23-2007, 08:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailormandave View Post
I know this site is primarily about passagemaking, but a previous post here about dingy sailing made me realize that there are large numbers of people teaching sailing for profit on waters which are not interntional and not under the auspices of the coast guard either (In the US) who do not hold the OUPV Captain's license. The ASA homepage has a flow chart which gives their advice as to when they believe one needs the OUPV and when one doesn't.
Thank you. I had to look a while. It is not on the home page, it is under the top link for "Instructors", than the side link for, "For Becoming an Instructor", or:

http://www.asa.com/become_an_instructor.html

I found it helpful.

I also found it most interesting, that the flow chart that you made reference to, cleary answers much of the "a-do" that you made in other posts recently. Check out the very first diamond in the flow chart.
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